HIDDEN CUISINES OF MADRID, A Three-Part Series: (1) Cafe Bar Tambayan

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Tambayan Filipino patrons imbibing Filipino cuisine and the delights
of their native culture away from home


HIDDEN CUISINES OF MADRID, A Three-Part Series: (1) Cafe Bar Tambayan

By Dylon Goris
Photos:Aidan Kim

Walking down the block on Calle Cueta at night, you might get the impression that you were right in the middle of a ghost town. But tucked away in this quiet street is a place you might not expect to find. Entering Cafe Bar Tambayan is like stepping into a small slice of the Philippine Islands. The place is alive with authentic Filipino culture. People of Filipino heritage sit around the bar to eat, drink, watch an Arsenal match and reminisce about their homeland. The walls are adorned with Philippine ornaments, not least posters of popular Filipino movies. A Filipino flag hangs proudly in the window. Scenic photographs from around the Island are hung on the walls which surely evoke feelings of nostalgia to the bar’s predominantly Filipino patrons, and evoke in me, an uninitiated foreigner, feelings of wonder about a land I’ve never seen.

Pork and chicken with chicharones and vinegar salsa to start off the Filipino feast

The most obvious hallmark of the bar’s authenticity is, of course, its traditional Filipino cuisine. Cafe Bar Tambayan is home to Madrid’s most authentic and delicious Filipino cuisine, and its patrons attest to the fact. One customer, Anna, lavished praise on the establishment: “There are other Filipino restaurants in Madrid, but this is the best. I come here all the time.”

You wouldn’t need much convincing, however. Tambayan’s food speaks for itself.

The meal started with an appetizer: a platter of chicken wings, pork ribs, and pork belly. Tender, succulent, and served with a delicious side sauce of vinegar and spices paired with chicharrones de trigo, Spanish for fried flour chips. This platter is enough to make your mouth water and ready for the main course.

Traditional Filipino pancit with spring rolls

The main course consisted of Pancit, a traditional Filipino noodle dish adorned with cabbage, peppers, pork and chicken. The dish was accompanied by delicious vegetable spring rolls and a side dish of Sinigang soup, another hallmark of traditional Filipino cuisine. The soup and noodle combo was a delicious and unique pair that highlighted the best of what the Philippines has to offer.

One should not miss out on the opportunity out sample Tambayan’s fantastic barbecue chicken skewers. Simple, succulent, and delicious, they are to be enjoyed by everyone from the veterans in Filipino dining to newcomers whose palettes may not be so adventurous. Best of all, one order comes with two skewers that are more than enough to fill up an empty belly.

Tambayan’s barbecue chicken skewers

All in all, Tambayan is a must-visit for those who find themselves in Madrid and seeking to expand their culinary horizons to foods other than the classic tapas and Spanish tortillas that can be found on every street in the city. Not only is it delicious, it is also extremely affordable — you can have yourself a feast with Tambayan’s special combo of pancit, rice and a side dish along with soup, appetizer, and drink of your choosing. All for six euros!

Full course meal featuring pancit, chicken skewers, and sinigang soup. €6.00! The cheapest combo in town. Exquisitely delicious too!

For the best Filipino food Madrid has to offer, visit Cafe Bar Tambayan at Calle Cueta 30, 28039 Madrid.

Glenn, Tambayan’s owner-manager